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How do you deal with harsh criticism for you work?

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11 answers

John’s Answer

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Giving and receiving negative feedback constructively takes a LOT of practice Ana. Many people get defensive or sad when they’re criticized at work. In many cases, the workplace has no feedback culture in place and people are not trained to give or receive criticism in a constructive manner.

SEVEN STEPS ON HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISM AT WORK

STEP 1.) LISTEN – Actually hear what’s being said. If necessary, ask questions to make sure you understand the criticism fully.

STEP 2.) IT’S NOT PERSONAL – Unless proven otherwise, assume good intentions. Don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that the person criticizing you is “out to get you.” Of course, sometimes they are. Unfair and overly negative feedback is also used as a tool by bad managers and workplace bullies to demean and control others. DO NOT put up with this kind of attack, go straight to your manager.

STEP 3.) DON’T MAKE EXCUSES – Instead you might say what you’ve learned and what you will do differently from now on. We desperately need feedback – both positive and negative. Tell me what I do well AND tell me what I can do better.

STEP 4.) DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY – Remember that they’re criticizing your work, not you as a person. Never take negative feedback about your work as a criticism of you as a person.

STEP 5.) TREAT IT CONSTRUCTIVELY – Remember that all constructive feedback (including negative feedback) is a sign of interest and a sign that people want to help you do better. It would be far worse for people to notice you doing bad work and not say a word.

STEP 6.) LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES – Remember that everyone makes mistakes and has things to learn. Yes, that includes you. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, but making the same mistakes over and over because you refuse to listen to criticism, than you should get used to it – as your going to get a lot of criticism.

STEP 7.) THANK THEM – Thank the person for their feedback. All constructive feedback is valuable because it gives you a chance to improve and learn. Positive feedback is easier and more fun and sadly undervalued in most workplaces.

Remember Ana, it’s what you do with the critique that counts, only you have the power to change your life and inspire the people around you.

Hope this was Helpful Ana
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Abby’s Answer

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Hey Ana! I've worked on a variety of graphic design projects at school and for work and can definitely say that it's a process learning how to digest criticism. I think what could help is approaching the criticism from a point of collaboration--the other person may see something different in your work, and both of you can work together to figure out the best way forward. You can do this by asking someone who's reviewing your work specific questions, like "What did you notice first" or "Can you describe how you feel seeing this." I'd also ask multiple people instead of one person.

If the reviewer is giving really harsh feedback, think about if they're trying to help your work get to a better place, or just want to talk about how they feel. A good reviewer would be interested in your thought process and how your ideas evolved. With that being said, harsh feedback can be constructive too, even though I know it can be hard to accept it when it feels like someone is just tearing down your work. At the end of the day, there are always bits of advice and learnings you can take away from any criticism of your work. You may not use all the advice you hear, but they can be good to keep in the back of your mind and prepare you the next time you create something. I hope this helped and best of luck as you continue designing! You'll do great!
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Alexandra’s Answer

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This is how I deal with harsh criticism at work:

1. I stop and think: what can I learn from this? I evaluate my action or lack of action. I try to understand what I could have done differently.
2. I say: thank you, I will have this in mind. It is important to acknowledge that the person who is providing feedback to you has taken the time and made the effort to help you get better. Even if they are too harsh, this is better than not telling you what they think.
3. I speak with others on my team: do they agree that I have done something well or poorly? More opinions help me assess how I can improve.
4. I actively try to correct what I do.
5. When I work on a similar project, I highlight to the supervisor: you told me I need to do X,Y, Z. Here, I am doing it. They need to be reminded because sometimes they are too busy to notice effort and improvement.
6. If I think the criticism is not justified, I speak with more people about it and try to work with a different team.
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Michelle’s Answer

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Hey Ana - this is a great question.

I find it helpful to re-frame criticism as the best place for growth - it's not a place to shut down or be defensive, but rather to absorb the other party's knowledge to the best of your ability and become better. Often, when someone is taking the time to explain their criticism, they care about you and your growth. That's important to remember even though it's hard to sometimes!

That being said, there is a good way to deliver critique and a bad way - if you feel that the way this person is delivering their criticism is inherently putting you down, you should have a conversation with the other party on how you best receive feedback. "I would appreciate if you gave me feedback in a way that was like this: XX" or "I would like if you started off telling me what you don't like/what I can improve on and then finishing with things you did like so I can know what to keep, add, and iterate on."
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Katherine’s Answer

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I think everyone should have the right to give criticism or feedback, because everyone should be equal.

If you receive severe criticism, you can find out if you really did something wrong in the dialogue. If you don’t agree with the other party’s opinion, you can appropriately put forward your own opinions and communicate with each other.
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Geraldine’s Answer

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Try and repackage the response as feedback rather than harsh. This is a journey you are on to mature your skills and all feedback is a learning opportunity. And you will get a ton of it over the decades. Thank them for helping you take a different perspective, you might find that approach changes the tone of the entire conversation. Also give feedback back, come up with what you feel may work better going forward to ensure you are correcting and maintaining a good working experience - don't be afraid to draw on your leadership qualities here, even if you are more junior in your role.
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Padmapriya’s Answer

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Hi Ana,

I haven't worked in Graphics design but I have colleagues who work. Here are some tips,

• Learn how to value criticism.
• Don’t get defensive.
• Control your body language.
• Respond to the criticism, not the tone.
• Disregard destructive criticism.
• Don’t respond immediately.
• Keep the conversation productive.
• Decide on ways to improve yourself.
• Don’t take it personally

Strategies for using criticism to help you improve:
Listen
Acknowledge
Ask
Consider
Compare
Create action plan
Solicit

Feedback is a gift.

Hope this helps.


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Christian’s Answer

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Hi Ana -
I haven't worked in graphic design but the question can apply broadly as we all learn and evolve in our professions. Also, I agree with the comments made above on this topic and I will simply add that feedback is part of the process of growing and learning. When receiving tough, or harsh, criticism assume positive intent. If you take even 1 item with you moving forward, while it might be hard to hear, it will help you be stronger going forward.
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Vineeth’s Answer

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In many cases, the workplace has no feedback culture in place and people are not trained to give or receive criticism in a constructive manner. Giving and receiving negative feedback constructively takes a LOT of practice

Few ways to Handle Criticism
• Listen
• Assume good intentions
• Do not get defensive and start making excuses
• Don't take it personally.
• See criticism as help
• Don't be too hard on yourself
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Alan’s Answer

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Hi Ana,

While my experience is not in graphics design, I can definitely understand the struggle as I am usually my own worst critic and harsh criticisms generally severely impact me. Over the years, I have developed a few tools and methods to help cope:

1. Growth mindset: Think of setbacks as growth opportunities. Let's learn from the harsh criticism and make myself better. Even if the criticism seem not justified, how can I be better for it? Sometimes for me, it could just be how can I make myself more resilient from being discouraged from harsh criticisms.

2. Take pride in your hard work: If you have put a lot of work and thought in doing something, take pride in that. Understand that no one is perfect and doing our best is the most we can ask for. Learning from your mistakes is the best way to grow.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Lizzy’s Answer

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Hi Anna,

I saw this question and because I had some experience about facing very harsh criticism in the past as well, so I would like to share my thoughts with you. All of the answers above are very helpful and positive. One thing I would like to add is there can be cases you may feel offensive and not respected by the other party because it's too harsh, please know that maybe it's just their habit and they don't know a better way of giving negative feedback and how to give feedback in an acceptable way. If that person is in a superior position, it may not be wise to argue, but you can take in the feedback and think about is there anything you can learn from it? If it's really bothering you, you can talk to someone and maybe you'll find that everyone has got some very harsh criticisam from him/her! :)
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